Don’t we all wish for a product that can reset our complexion? Perhaps a skincare that can immediately offer the skin clarity we once had when we were a newborn. Alas, while technology has advanced immensely over the decades, such products have yet to exist. A physical exfoliator or face scrub, though, could be a dupe to the imaginary miracle elixir ‒ however, and obviously, not as effective.

That said, it does subtly imbue the skin with vitality with every use ‒ sloughing away dead cells from the surface of the skin with exfoliating beads to reveal a brighter and clearer countenance. It also preps the skin for serums and moisturisers, allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin.

While a perceptible result isn’t instantaneous, it is one of the easiest and affordable ways to gently resurface the skin, deep-cleanse the pores, and keep visible signs of premature ageing at bay.

As opposed to chemical exfoliants, AHAs and BHAs, these physical exfoliators don’t cause sun sensitivity. However, it’s easy for things to go awry; face scrubs can be harsh on the skin if the formulation or application is too aggressive. The latter, a heavy-handed exfoliation, can strip away the skin’s protective barrier and lead to micro-tears, making it susceptible to infections and sun damage.

For beginners, dermatologists recommend a once-a-week application, gradually increasing the frequency as the skin acclimates to exfoliation.


Having a repertoire of efficacious products, Paula’s Choice reigns supreme in its field. Most notably, the skincare purveyor produced the highly raved chemical exfoliant, 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, famed for its ability to smooth out texture.

Its UnScrub Cleanser seems to be following suit. A milky gel formulation that effectively removes light makeup, sunscreen and impurities, this gentle cleansing face scrub promises to gently renew skin with its pressure-sensitive, environmentally friendly, round jojoba beads that quickly dissolve while cleansing.

A little too quickly, some skincare buffs note. While it hampers the possibility of over-scrubbing, preventing micro-tears, the almost-instant pulverisation offers minimal exfoliation ‒ which may not be a bad thing for those with sensitive skin. On that premise, we suggest giving this a miss if you’re looking for a thorough exfoliation.

Available at Paula’s Choice


Taking the form of a hydrating face mask ‒ to be lightly massaged into the skin using circular motions and let sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing out with warm water ‒ this Sugar Face Polish uses brown sugar crystals and strawberry seeds as exfoliators, allowing the user to control the intensity of the scrub.

Fresh recommends those who want an intense scrub to use the product directly on clean, dry skin; otherwise, they can soften the crystals and seeds by breaking them down with water for a milder exfoliation.

As versatile and efficacious as it is, the moisturising mask also infused with real wild strawberries, has drawbacks too. While it does what it promises, lending a nourished and radiant skin, the scrub leaves a filmy texture after removal. Not to mention: the exorbitant price tag.

Available at Fresh


ultrafine face scrub

The functions of the La Roche-Posay Ultrafine Scrub cleanser give it its name; it exfoliates with ultrafine beads and cleanses the skin while respecting its physiological balance ‒ something the brand honours.

Relative to the Fresh and Paula’s Choice physical exfoliators, this variation features micronised diatomaceous powders that don’t disintegrate easily ‒ ensuring an intensive exfoliation ‒ which explains why it’s crucial to go light on the application. While the grains are minute, they can be abrasive with added pressure.

Formulated with a humectant ‒ thermal spring water rich in antioxidant selenium and glycerine ‒ the gel-based cleanser also has moisturising properties; it yields a softer and well-hydrated skin without the discomforting tightness after rinse-off.

Available at Guardian


This 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula is, in some way, analogous to the Sugar Face Polish; they both come after cleansing and before serums and moisturisers. Here, the exfoliating beads ‒ in this case, silica granules ‒ are even more minuscule but never sparse.

Despite being microscopic, the beads ‒ in tandem with the water-based cream ‒ can buff away rough patches effortlessly, promoting an even complexion to boot. It is gentle and leaves no residue on the skin after rinsing. Rather, a tender and softer skin comes through.

Available at Sephora

(Images: Respective Brands/ Main and featured image: Ron Lach/Pexels)

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Selecting A Face Scrub Based On Your Skincare Needs
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